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Internal communication in a time of digital transformation

Digital transformation is rapidly changing how organisations communicate internally. This was true even before the COVID-19 crisis hit. A ZHAW study looked into how medium-sized Swiss companies are dealing with internal communication.

When exploring this topic, it became clear that internal communication is both of a driver of change but also affected by it. And yet its core service remains the same as before: internal communication is about influencing the attitude and behaviour of employees. This is done increasingly not only through information but also through dialogue, participation and collaboration. Qualitative, in-depth interviews conducted with 12 communication managers between September 2019 and February 2020 revealed the following findings for the medium-sized companies that participated. First, internal communication is allocated few resources. Second, its main goal is still to inform employees, but dialogue is also now increasingly becoming a priority. Third, reaching employees remains a major challenge, and the communicative participation of employees can still be significantly improved. Fourth, many companies were struggling with outdated intranet solutions at the time the survey was conducted.

Recommendations for actions

Based on the study’s findings, the researchers from the ZHAW School of Applied Linguistics compiled an agenda with 15 points. It shows how internal communication management should develop in the dimensions of strategy, organisation, culture and technology so that international communication can become a significant driver of digital transformation.